Bournemouth rally to top Championship, Blackpool down


Football - AFC Bournemouth v Birmingham City - Sky Bet Football League Championship - Goldsands Stadium, Dean Court - 6/4/15 Yann Kermorgant scores the third goal for Bournemouth from the penalty spot Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Henry Browne Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

LONDON (Reuters) - The compelling English Championship season delivered more drama on Monday as Bournemouth returned to the top of the table, Blackpool were relegated and Wigan Athletic sacked their manager Malky Mackay.

Middlesbrough started the day at the summit of England's second tier but ended it in fourth place after losing 2-0 at Watford, who briefly led the table after their win at Vicarage Road.

Bournemouth conceded two goals in 21 minutes against Birmingham City but fought back to win 4-2 and move one point ahead at the top of the standings.

Seven points separate the to seven teams with five games left, Bournemouth leading the way on 77, followed by Norwich City and Watford on 76, Middlesbrough 75, Derby County 71, Wolverhampton Wanderers 71 and Brentford 70.

The top two win automatic promotion to the Premier League and the next four clubs will contest the playoffs to decide the last place in the top flight.

Bournemouth won 8-0 at Birmingham earlier in the season but it looked like the Blues were going to avenge that defeat when Clayton Donaldson and David Cotterill put them 2-0 up after 21 minutes on the south coast.

The hosts were level at halftime, however, thanks to goals from Steve Cook and Callum Wilson before Yann Kermorgant's penalty made it 3-2 and Charlie Daniels added a fourth before Birmingham skipper Paul Robinson was sent off late in the game.

Norwich climbed to second on goal difference ahead of Watford thanks to a 2-0 home win over Sheffield Wednesday.

Ipswich's promotion hopes suffered a blow when they lost 2-1 at Huddersfield Town and so did those of Brentford who were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Nottingham Forest.

But Derby County's 2-0 win at Wigan Athletic lifted them to fifth and ended Mackay's five-month reign as Wigan boss at the DW Stadium.

Wigan, who won the FA Cup and were relegated from the Premier League in 2013, are eight points from safety.

The 43-year-old Mackay, under investigation by the FA for allegedly sending racist and sexist text messages when he was Cardiff City manager, took charge in November but his team gathered only 19 points from a possible 72 and look likely to be relegated.

Another former Premier League club definitely going down to the third tier for the first time since 2007 are Blackpool, whose relegation was confirmed after Rotherham United beat Brighton.

Blackpool, who only have 24 points with six matches to play, cannot finish higher than 22nd.

In a perfect finale to another thrilling day in Europe's tightest league, Wolves beat Leeds United 4-3 following a late goal from Dave Edwards at Molineux after Leeds had fought back from 3-1 down to level at 3-3.

(Writing by Mike Collett, editing by Ed Osmond)

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